2009/10/23

Stop & go tactic

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Let's jump into art of war theory.

Problem:
(1) Best conditions for operations can only be achieved with effective battlefield shaping efforts.
(2) Effective shaping efforts are impossible to sustain 24/7.

Solution:
"Stop and go"; a synchronization of vulnerable operations with windows of opportunities created by only temporary shaping efforts - the 'Stop & go tactic'.*

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Examples of vulnerable operations:
(1) attack (example: air force strike packages)
(2) defence (in action, not just waiting)
(3) breaking contact
(4) march

Examples of shaping efforts:
(1) counter-artillery and counter-mortar fires
(2) increased availability (and use) of support fires
(3) electronic countermeasures (ECM; jamming)
(4) active air defence and/or combat air patrol
(5) suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD)
(6) smoke wall (vehicle borne)
(7) suppressive fires (laid in line of sight)
(8) OPFOR reserves kept busy elsewhere / deception ops in general
(9) aerial surveillance in place
(10) radio comm relay in place (like aerial relay platforms circling)

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Advantages:
(1) Economy of effort: Exhausting shaping operations are maintained only at times of greatest benefit.
(2) Improved survivability and chance of mission success: Vulnerable operations would take place mostly under the best achievable conditions.

(mixed colour: vulnerable ops covered by shaping ops.
blue areas: war sucks. red areas: waste of shaping effort.)

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In the end this is just a clear display of what's otherwise usually integrated into "synchronization". Yet, the differences are significant; especially the angle of view and the conclusions.

My special emphasis:
(1) use for force protection (assumption of a highly dangerous OPFOR)
(2) emphasis on time (discontinuous instead of "all the time")
(3) emphasis on the scarcity of support: Its economic application is a must

The frequent use of this tactic creates the expectation that certain vulnerable operations take place once the shaping ops take place. This offers opportunities for deception.

A problem of the tactic is that it's difficult to use in practice. It's more like an ideal to aspire to in deliberate actions and stationary phases of warfare.

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The real difference to orthodox "Synchronization" becomes visible in details:

What should come first?
Vulnerable ops lead to shaping ops?
or
Shaping ops lead to vulnerable ops?

Test:

(Case 1)
Vulnerable ops happens, shaping ops fail.
Consequence: casualties / mission failure

(Case 2)
Vulnerable ops don't happen, shaping ops done
Consequence: wasted shaping effort (and mislead OPFOR)

Conclusion:
It is a superior view to see shaping ops as enabling/preceding vulnerable ops in comparison to shaping ops being a consequence of vulnerable ops.



How to implement:
Let's take the traffic lights analogy. Green - yellow - red.
Units react to (exploit) the shaping ops that were initiated by a higher level HQ. Units could also request shaping ops, but the vulnerable ops would still be a consequence of shaping ops if possible.

The traffic light coding and in general the setting of shaping ops conditions in specified areas or for specified units could be developed to a leadership tool. This tool allows for a lot of initiative at the lower levels. It does primarily set the conditions; exactly what higher level HQs should do the most.


Sven Ortmann

*: I'm guilty of creating that term in this context.
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1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure how relevant that video was, but it did give me a good chuckle.

    The one problem with the stop and go use of shaping operations that I can see is that it requires platforms from which to launch these shaping operations en masse. The maintenence of these platforms between major operations might negate the logistical benefits gained by reserving the use of shaping operations for major operations. Of course this objection ignores the specifics of the platforms involved, and it might be possible to distribute shaping capabilities in such a way that logistical benefits can still be realized, but it is something to consider.

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